The Iran Deal and Sense of Insecurity

Monday, May 11, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

Since the beginning of the third millennium, the situation in the Middle East has been inflammatory and restive as a result of the interventionist acts of transregional powers in the regional security complex. The end result of these inflammatory developments during the past decades has been an effort to introduce Iran as a global and regional issue while increasing chaos in the region has changed security and political relations in favor of further strengthening of Iran's strategic influence in the Middle East. Iran and the concert of big powers, also known as the EU3+3 group, have been engaged in serious talks since early May 2015 to draft the text of a final nuclear agreement after they issued the Lausanne statement on April 2, 2015. This achievement was made possible through the new approach and strategy taken by the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, part of which had been elucidated back in 2014 by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an article titled “What Iran Really Wants.” However, the sustainability and productivity of future nuclear talks between Iran and the EU3+3 group is faced with an important and strategic threat. That threat is a sense of insecurity on the part of Iran and possible disruption of regional stability, and the strategic balance among trends, forces, state and non-state actors, and driving forces in this region as a result of efforts made by transregional players aimed at restricting Iran's role in establishing stability and security in the region.

The importance of creating security and maintaining stability under concerning conditions that exist in terms of regional orientations, attitudes, plans, policies and strategies, has not only drawn attention of official and unofficial foreign policy centers of both the EU3+3 and Iran, but has been also emphasized by various research, policymaking, and decision-making bodies. In this context and due to its own strategic, civilizational, cultural, social, and economic concerns, and its huge potential for international interactions, and in order to continue working with the modern world system and to keep up with the capitalistic system, Iran considers any effort to ensure security both within its own system and its periphery, as  imperative.

Therefore, as a result of developments in the Middle East and following the Lausanne statement, international and regional efforts to restrict Iran's regional potentials and interfere in spheres of Iran's strategic influence have posed a threat to regional equations and paved the way for the collapse of the existing relative stability and emergence of new insecurity in the region. The key point is to know what actors are using what resources and with what goals to sow instability and insecurity in Iran's spheres of influence and then find a possible solution to face this potential menace.

To do this, security and political trends in the region can be explored on the basis of strategic rivalries among intraregional players and transregional approaches to regional equations. Strategic rivalries in peripheral regions of Iran in the Middle East are usually the outcome of the way wealth, influence and borders have been distributed and determined in this geographical domain following the conclusion of Sykes-Picot Agreement. Therefore, the distribution of power in the Middle East region, especially in Iran's spheres of influence in the region, emanates from non-indigenous structures. Crises of legitimacy and problems regarding influence and power of ruling systems are quite common in Iran's periphery in the existing Middle East. Therefore, general dissatisfaction with the status quo was the main factor that led to political developments, which finally came to be known as the Arab Spring.

This is why security-building, indigenous, emancipatory and resistance-based discourses promoted by Iran have been welcomed by nations and the public opinion in the region during the past few decades. In the meantime, transregional strategies and approaches to regional developments, including the approaches taken by Americans, Russians, Chinese and Europeans considered chaos in the Middle East as much a threat to their strategic interests as was possible cooperation between the United States and Iran on regional issues.

At the same time, those who pursued Iranophobic and warmongering approaches, which included Western and Arab states as well as Israel in addition to network-based actors like the ISIS, Al-Nusra Front, and Al-Qaeda, consider a possible deal between Iran and the EU3+3 group a threat, which may push them toward instability. As a result, they have been trying to put obstacles on the way of a possible rapprochement between Iran and big powers.

According to Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, developments that have taken place following the Lausanne statement through nuclear talks between Iran and the EU3+3 group, can be collectively considered as a “consequential event” which can pave the way for a strategic development aimed at restoring fundamental stability to the region, at least, for the next few decades, through effective, sustainable and constructive role played by Iran. US President Barack Obama also said in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman that the interests of the United States in the Middle East are closely tied to the establishment of peace in the region.

In this context, realization of Iran's interests in the region will hinge on the existence of sustainable peace and security in the peripheral regions, and Iran's ability to get rid of the sense of insecurity by further boosting its power and constructive role. This point has been frequently emphasized by the Iranian administration. From the viewpoint of what Javad Zarif has called the holistic nature of Iran's foreign policy, the Iranian paradigm that seeks to create stability and aims to not only foster, but also create security, will be the most important of campaigns that will be launched to establish security and promote constructive cooperation in the Middle East region for a few decades to come.

The current opportunity offered to the EU3+3 group and Iran should not be squandered easily. The success or failure of this unprecedented opportunity that has come into existence after the issuance of Lausanne statement by Iran and the EU3+3 group, will have profound effects on regional order, the concept of strategic stability, balance of powers, and the future outlook for regional identity and cooperation. The materialization of any of the aforesaid scenarios through recognition or denial of Iran's natural role to create stability in the region by the EU3+3 group, will provide the Islamic Republic with new strategic opportunities to expand its influence in the region as an effective and responsible international actor.

All these developments will become possible in the light of the conclusion and sustainable productivity of a final nuclear agreement between the two sides. It seems that international and regional experiences gained in the past few decades have clearly proven that establishment of relative peace and stability in the security complex of the Middle East will not be possible through restriction of Iran's regional role and influence through sanctions and threats. On the contrary, it can be only possible by taking advantage of and even promoting domestic and international stability-seeking, inspiring and innovative capacities of this powerful regional actor.

Key Words: Iran Deal, Sense of Insecurity, Middle East, Strengthening of Iran's Strategic Influence, Lausanne Statement, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Transregional Players, Security, Stability, EU3+3, Crises of Legitimacy, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*The Iran Deal and Iran's Strategic Influence:

*Iran and the European Union: Reciprocal Strategies and Viewpoints:

*Strategic Analysis of 2014 Crisis in Syria: Resistance vs. Interventionism: